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  • Election Watch

(March–June 2015)

Benin: In April 26 elections for the 83-seat National Assembly, President Thomas Boni Yayi’s Cauri Forces for an Emerging Benin (FCBE) and its coalition partner the Amana Alliance (AA) won a 33-seat plurality, but failed to secure an absolute majority. The two main opposition parties—the Build the Nation Union coalition and the Party of Democratic Renewal (PRD), led by former prime minister Adrien Houngbédji—received 13 and 10 seats, respectively. The liberal opposition Benin Rebirth Party and its coalition partner the Patriotic Revival Party won 7 seats, and the opposition National Alliance for Development and Democracy (AND) won 5 seats. Six other parties split the remaining 15 seats. The new government will be headed by the PRD’s Houngbédji.

Burundi: Presidential and legislative elections scheduled to take place in June were postponed after violence escalated in response to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term.

El Salvador: In elections held on March 1 for the 84-seat Legislative Assembly, the opposition National Republican Alliance (Arena) won 35 seats, outpolling the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) of President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, which received 31 seats, leaving neither party with a clear majority. The conservative Grand Alliance for National Unity (GANA) party won 11 seats, the right-wing National Coalition Party (PCN) received 6 seats, and the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) received one seat. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal took nearly a month to announce the results due to a failure of the computer software used for vote tabulation. [End Page 176]

Ethiopia: According to preliminary returns from elections held on May 24 for the 547-seat House of People’s Representatives, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s longtime ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) won all of the 442 seats for which results were available. Full results, which are due June 22, will be reported in a future issue. Opposition parties alleged that they had been subject to intimidation as well as obstructed from campaigning and registering voters in the lead-up to the election. One opposition candidate described the vote as “an organized armed robbery.”

Guyana: In May 11 elections for the 65-seat National Assembly, the Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) opposition coalition won 51 percent of the vote and a slim majority of 33 seats. The ruling People’s Progressive Party–Civic (PPP-C), which had been in power since 1992, won 49 percent and 32 seats. Under Guyanese law, the leader of the party that receives the most votes assumes the presidency, so APNU+AFC’s David Granger, a retired army general, became president, defeating incumbent Donald Ramotar of the PPP-C.

Kazakhstan: In the April 26 presidential election, which took place a year earlier than originally scheduled, longtime incumbent Nursultan Nazarbayev of the People’s Democratic Party “Nur Otan” won 98 percent of the vote. Turgun Syzdykov of the Communist People’s Party won 2 percent, and independent candidate Abelgazi Kusainov received less than one percent. Nazarbayev has been in power since 1989. OSCE election observers criticized the election due to the lack of a credible opposition and restrictions on freedom of expression.

Mexico: According to preliminary results of elections held June 7 for the 500-seat Chamber of Deputies, the country’s three major parties—the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the National Action Party (PAN), and the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD)—received only 60 percent of the total vote. The ruling PRI maintained its majority, despite winning only 29 percent. Full results will be reported in a future issue.

Nigeria: Following a six-week delay, the presidential election was held on March 28. Former general and military ruler Muhammadu Buhari of the newly formed opposition party All Progressives Congress (APC) won 54 percent of the vote, defeating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who won 45 percent. Jonathan conceded defeat shortly before the announcement of the final results, marking Nigeria’s first peaceful transfer of power from an incumbent to an opposition candidate. In a statement issued immediately following the voting, election observers...